Brad Keselowski goes around and makes contact with the wall while trying to pass Matt Kenseth.
Chase standings leader wins pole at New Hampshire RELATED: Qualifying results LOUDON, N.H. -- You couldn't script a better beginning to Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup for Brad Keselowski , who showed no sign of stopping his relentless run toward a second championship on Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . Fresh from a dramatic victory in last Sunday's first Chase race at Chicagoland Speedway , Keselowski blew away the track record in winning the pole for Sunday's Sylvania 300 at the Magic Mile (2 p.m. ET on ESPN). The Coors Light Pole Award was Keselowski's fifth of the season, the eight of his career and his third in 11 starts at the 1.058-mile flat track. In the second and final round of knockout qualifying, Keselowski covered the distance in 27.090 seconds (140.598 mph) to edge Jamie McMurray (140.437 mph) for the top starting spot by .031 seconds. Kevin Harvick qualified third for the second Chase race at 140.065 mph. "The kind of track is kind of right in my wheelhouse, right in our team’s wheelhouse," said Keselowski , who won the July race at New Hampshire in dominating fashion. "We had this race circled before the Chase started, and we felt decent about Chicago, but we really felt like this was a race of emphasis for us to get a win and get out of the first bracket (three-race elimination round). "It's good, right? We just want to keep it going." Despite the excellent performances of the first two weeks, Keselowski isn't ready to claim ownership of the title just yet. "With the resets (after each round), the success of today really means nothing come Homestead (where the four remaining eligible drivers will race for the title, with the highest finisher among the four claiming the prize)," Keselowski said. "It's great. It's positive momentum. It's everything you want to do, and it’s everything you think you should do. "But when it resets, it resets, and nothing that you've done in the past really matters, as long as you're eligible for the bracket. I'm a long, long way from using the word favorite or feeling overly confident." McMurray, who did not make the Chase field, was pleased with his effort in qualifying. "I felt like, in my first run, I didn't get everything out of the car and maybe left a little bit on the table," McMurray said. "The first run I didn't think I got it all, but the second run out (in the final round), the second lap was really good. "Honestly, I came off Turn 4 and tried to run three laps and tried to just drive a little bit harder, but the tires just wouldn’t hold up for another quick lap." Chase drivers who will start in the top 12 on Sunday include Denny Hamlin (fourth), Kyle Busch (fifth), Jimmie Johnson (sixth), Joey Logano (seventh), Carl Edwards (eighth), Ryan Newman (ninth) and Dale Earnhardt Jr . (11th) Keselowski led the first of the two qualifying sessions with a lap at 139.614 mph (27.281 seconds), a scant .005 seconds faster than the No. 99 of fellow Ford driver Edwards. All told, 26 drivers in the 30-minute first round broke the track qualifying record of 138.130 mph (27.574 seconds) set by Kyle Busch on July 11, 2014. Earnhardt Jr. was the 12th and last driver to advance to the second session with a lap at 138.987 mph (27.404 mph). Chase drivers Jeff Gordon (13th), Kurt Busch (15th), Matt Kenseth (16th), Kasey Kahne (17th), Aric Almirola (21st), Greg Biffle (26th) and AJ Allmendinger (27th) failed to advance to the 10-minute final round. Notes: The track qualifying record was the 19th set this year in Sprint Cup Series time trials, in the first year of the knockout format. ... Keselowski has accounted for four of those records. ... The last two times Keselowski has won a pole for a Sprint Cup race (at Kentucky and Richmond), he has also won the race. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Get the latest Brad Keselowski news, media, stats, and standings for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver only on the official site of NASCAR.
Get the latest Brad Keselowski news, media, stats, and standings for the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver only on the official site of NASCAR.
Four-win regular season sets Penske driver apart RELATED: Play Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize Last year at Homestead-Miami Speedway , Brad Keselowski 's reign as 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion ended with a sixth-place finish, a shrug and a resolution to do better next time. It also occurred against the backdrop of Jimmie Johnson celebrating his coronation amid a confetti and champagne shower as a six-time champ. Little did people know that the resolve to improve from Keselowski and Team Penske would be so strong. After being on the wrong side of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs last year, Keselowski and co. are steamrolling into the postseason as the No. 1 seed, clinching the top spot with a runaway of a victory Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway . "I couldn't ask for a better way to enter the Chase than to win and take the first seed," Keselowski said. "We're ready. We want to run for another Cup. We really feel like this team has it." Keselowski separated himself from a pack of three-win drivers in the regular-season finale, snaring victory No. 4 in dominating fashion. With the amount of sheer speed his No. 2 Ford has shown at the variety of tracks in the 10-race Chase, a second Sprint Cup title in a three-year span is a realistic possibility. But the Roger Penske-owned operation has produced stellar race cars for both teams that reside at his Mooresville, North Carolina shop. Besides Keselowski's four wins, teammate Joey Logano has claimed three for the group's No. 22 Ford, tying him with the powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports trio of Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon and Johnson -- all with three regular-season triumphs. While the stage may seemingly be set for a Hendrick vs. Penske showdown in the postseason, Keselowski isn't discounting Joe Gibbs Racing , Stewart-Haas Racing and Roush Fenway Racing -- all teams that also have multiple drivers in the title-eligible pool, ready to try to find running room and avoid the three eliminations in the new Chase format. "It's an interesting layout for the next 10 races," Keselowski said. "All the teams have different strengths and weaknesses. Over the summer stretch there were certainly some tracks in (the Hendrick) wheelhouse. I think we have a lot of tracks coming up that are in ours over the next few weeks. It's really hard to say. It seems like everybody seems to find another level when it comes time for the Chase. There could be somebody out there sleeping. I think the Gibbs cars have been performing really well, at least at Atlanta and the weeks prior to that. They could certainly be an issue and a threat as well. "Over the summer stretch, I thought we were a little bit behind, but boy, did we nail it right here tonight. That's part of the fun." The summer swoon etched in Keselowski's mind was a seven-race period from late June to early August where the team finished outside the top 10 five times. The other two races, however, were convincing victories at Kentucky and New Hampshire, the latter of which is the second battle in this year's Chase schedule. Saturday night's win, Keselowski's third in 10 races, continued the season-long trend of speed before and during the race that has become the No. 2 crew's trademark. Keselowski has started on the front row a sterling 11 times in 26 races this season, including four Coors Light Pole Awards. But count Penske, the Captain himself, among those not scheduling a fitting for championship rings just yet. "Obviously being the top seed is a tremendous effort for the team and certainly puts us in a great place, but we're not blind," said Penske, who tapped Keselowski for a full-time ride with his team starting in 2010. "We know there's plenty of guys out there that beat us; they're going to want to. What we have to do is stay on course." The path -- at least early on -- is one that Keselowski has already paved with a degree of success in the past. The 30-year-old driver has won at each of the Chase's first three tracks (Chicagoland, New Hampshire, Dover), but he isn't taking advancing from the opening Challenger Round onward as a given. "I don't know. Nobody knows," Keselowski said. "I do know we have different strengths and weaknesses. As to which ones are the strengths you need to have and which ones are the weaknesses you can get away with or vice versa, time will tell." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: NASCAR Chase Grid games WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Kes maintains top standings position while Logano now trails by one point
Brad Keselowski talks about making a wild pass to take the lead and hanging on for the win.
Brad Keselowski battles Kevin Harvick and Kyle Larson in the closing laps to win the first race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase at Chicagoland Speedway.
Alan Cavanna chats with Brad Keselowski in Victory Lane about his daring move to take the lead and what it means to punch his ticket to the Contender Round in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Ride along with Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick as Keselowski makes a three-wide pass to set up a win in Chicagoland.